Should you take your own blood pressure at home?

I had never really considered this question before, but after listening to Dr. Mark Huffman of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine speak to the Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®, I am going to do it.

I wrote up high blood pressure, or hypertension, for the blog two years ago.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say, “High blood pressure is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.”

Just to give you some ballpark figures, Normal blood pressure (BP) is 120/80, systolic/diastolic. Prehypertensive is 120-139 over 80-89. Stage one hypertension is 140-159 over 90 – 99. Stage two hypertension reads 160 -179 over 100 – 109.

Modifiable causes of high BP or hypertension include smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, dietary salt, alcohol consumption and stress.

Causes of high BP over which we have no control include older age, genetics, family history of high BP, chronic kidney disease and adrenal and thyroid disorders.

The CDC recommends, “There are several things that you can do to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range—
• Get your blood pressure checked regularly.
• Eat a healthy diet.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Be physically active.
• Limit alcohol use.
• Don’t smoke.
• Prevent or treat diabetes

Some 67 million American adults (31%) have high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 American adults.  Anyone, including children, can develop high blood pressure. It greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.” Emphasis mine.

Dr. Huffman said that home blood pressure measurements are increasingly preferred as adjuncts to those taken in the doctor’s office.

“Automatic sphygmomanometers work well. Omron, upper arm cuffs are preferred and are often covered by insurance. ” He recommended checking out Amazon where they are available for $45 to $65.

I liked very much that the CDC recommendations were all lifestyle ones and did not include any taking of drugs. Obviously, this assumes that our blood pressure is in the normal range. Perhaps if we get our lifestyle in synch with these recommendations, our blood pressure won’t go up and we won’t need to go the drug route – ever.

I am arranging to get a blood pressure monitor and plan to take mine regularly at home and furnish my doctor with the numbers the next time I see her.

What do you think?



Filed under aging, blood pressure, heart, heart disease, heart problems, stroke

2 responses to “Should you take your own blood pressure at home?

  1. Having a cuff at home is a good idea-like a thermometer. I have one because my BP is too low. Weird but true. ;). I am actually trying to give up bad habits, but my pressure goes too low. Always something it seems. 8)


    • Katie –

      Thanks very much for your comment. Sorry to hear that you have a problem with low blood pressure. As far as bad habits go, I believe the best way to handle them is to find some kind of substitute for the behavior. Just swearing off and white-knuckling it is very hard. Good luck!


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